Idomeni: eviction has started

idomeni-eviction-ISince the early morning hours of today, Greek riot police started to evict Idomeni. Idomeni became a symbol since the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border. It became a symbol of Europe at a crossroad. It became a symbol of a militarized and repressive borderregime violently gaining back force. And even more then this it became a symbol of hope and of the strong commitment of thousands of families, women, men and children in their daily struggle for freedom of movement and open borders.

hope1Maybe Idomeni will be emptied. Maybe all will be forced into isolated camps all over Greece. But not only is the soil of Idomeni now full of the stories of resistance.

It is the travellers who will keep this struggle alive and tell the stories to those who will follow. A friend in a very similar situation, stuck in Greece many years before said:

Noone can stop the rain.

 

For updates on the eviction, follow the Live-Ticker of Moving Europe:

http://moving-europe.org/24-5-2016-updates-from-the-eviction-in-idomeni/

Already yesterday Moving Europe published an article on the upcoming eviction:

            Source: http://moving-europe.org/idomeni-eviction-on-early-tuesday-morning/

Since heavy clashes between the Greek police and inhabitants of the makeshift camp of Idomeni erupted and most of the people had to experience police violence by tear gas1, the situation in Idomeni has not calmed down. During the weekend, intense rain transformed the camp into a mud place again2, and supporting structures were increasingly limited in accessing the camp. Cars have been stopped and searched, and volunteers were taken to police stations for several hours for questioning.

In the night to Monday, several sources were reporting massive police force movements towards Idomeni in order to prepare for an upcoming eviction. According to media sources, it is likely that police will start the eviction on early Tuesday morning3. Due to high pressure from the opposition and the latest heavy clashes in Idomeni, the government changed their mind on waiting for a voluntary closure of the camp. The police is hoping for a non-violent eviction, but this seems nearly impossible given the the situation of tension, frustration and desperation into which Greek and European authorities have forced the people in Idomeni. Members of supporting structures in and around Idomeni expressed their concerns about the physical and psychological conditions of the people, were they to be confronted with massive police and military forces: “It is insane to conduct an eviction at the moment. There are hundreds of familes, thousands of children and many people in bad physical conditions, this will create enormous damage and raise frustration even more”, S. explained. Referring to the current developments regarding the agreement between Turkey and the EU, which seems to be at a crossroads4, she added: “Everything is unsure at the moment, we cannot understand why the authority is creating facts when everything is unstable and nothing working as they want”.

On Monday morning it was reported from Idomeni, that authorities closed the waterlines at several points5. In addition to the severe limitation of food supplies, this gives an idea about the authorities‘ strategy for emptying the camp: Creating a lack of basic needs and forcing the people, particularly the vulnerable people, to leave by themselves –  which accordingly to posts on social media is working for many people6. This was also confirmed by an inhabitant of the camp on Monday morning on the phone: “There are several buses this morning waiting for people, I think several will take this, since it is maybe the last chance”. He added that a few NGOs are present, but one NGO worker told him that they probably will not be able to come anymore from tomorrow onwards.

According to CNN Greece, the upcoming eviction might take up to 7 days and is following a strategy, which we heard about as a rumor two month ago already: The forces will separate the camp into several sectors, which will be isolated from each other. Subsequently, these sectors will be emptied over several days, outside the view of media and volunteers in order to avoid witnesses7.
The future of the about 9.000 inhabitants of Idomeni camp is unsure. Some sources report people are going to be brought to Thessaloniki to guarantee health service and housing8, but supporters are doubtful that there are places for everybody. Moreover, the situation in many other camps is worse than in Idomeni and disillusioning.

Notes

[1][1] Statement by MSF: http://www.msf.org/en/article/greece-msf-resumes-activities-idomeni-after-clashes-and-tear-gas-cause-temporary-suspension
[2] Rain: https://twitter.com/Laura_Naude/status/734431370550861825
[3] http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-in-idomeni-polizei-soll-camp-am-dienstag-raeumen-a-1093562.html
[4] http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-refugee-deal-with-turkey-in-danger-of-failure-a-1092331.html?platform=hootsuite
[5] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1579995312299371&id=1469254766706760
[6] https://www.facebook.com/yusufphotographie/posts/10154799444858906
[7] http://www.cnn.gr/news/ellada/story/33102/etoimazoyn-epixeirisi-ekkenosis-tis-eidomenis
[8] http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160523/1040067038/greece-evacuates-idomeni-camp.html

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... is like a “paper boat”. We chose this as a metaphor for what we want to create and for the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. The paper boat is a folded boat able to swim – for a while. Then you have to build a new one to go on travelling. A paper boat is symbolic for the journey of life, vulnerable but in your own hands and to be recreated again and again. It is simple, but it carries many hopes and dreams. It can dance on a turbulent sea. It belongs to everybody. And it might become the small version – like a first draft – of a welcome-space.

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